Tuscaloosa Pastor of the Week: Pastor Dr. Thaddeus Steele
Tuscaloosa is a city steeped in history, and at the heart of its rich tapestry stands Reverend Thaddeus Steele, a native son who wears many hats – pastor, professor, businessman, civil rights advocate, and torchbearer of a legacy that champions justice and equality. As the Pastor of Hunter Chapel AME Zion Church, the oldest African American Church in Tuscaloosa, and a professor at Stillman College, Reverend Steele seamlessly intertwines his roles to lead a life of purpose and impact.
Growing up in a home where civil rights discussions were as common as family dinners, Reverend Steele inherited a legacy of activism from his mother, the esteemed Rev. Bessie Steele-Colvin, a foot soldier and strategist of the civil rights movement. Inspired by the strategic conversations of iconic civil rights leaders around his dinner table, including figures like Rev. Thomas Linton, Joe Mallisham, and Charles Steele, the young Steele found himself on a path destined for advocacy and change.
Pursuing graduate studies led Reverend Steele to Washington, DC, where his passion for justice crystallized into a fervent advocacy for fair treatment within the criminal justice system, particularly for African Americans. He stood against racial disparities in arrest and incarceration rates, not just within the United States but also internationally, supporting liberation theology and fighting against social, political, and economic oppression in Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and Canada.
In the midst of the George Floyd protests, Reverend Steele played a pivotal role as one of the originators of a statement from Tuscaloosa County Ministers for Biblical Justice. Standing on the steps of the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse, he delivered a powerful message denouncing police brutality against African Americans and other people of color, solidifying his commitment to justice on both local and national fronts.
Reverend Steele's advocacy extends to racial reconciliation and the preservation of civil rights history. As a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History and Reconciliation Foundation, he works tirelessly to ensure that the stories of the past are not forgotten. Recognizing a gap in the documentation of the AME Zion Churches' role in the civil rights movement, Reverend Steele initiated the compilation of an anthology of narratives from various AME Zion Churches in Alabama. This groundbreaking work, set to be published in the near future, sheds light on the crucial role these churches played in the fight for freedom and justice.
A devoted servant leader, Reverend Steele places immense value on faith, family, and community. His mantra, "I choose faith in action over fear that leads to failure," encapsulates his unwavering commitment to making a positive impact. As a catalyst for change, he empowers the disenfranchised and marginalized, leaving an indelible mark on Tuscaloosa and beyond. Reverend Thaddeus Steele stands as a beacon of inspiration, embodying the ideals of faith, justice, and education in the heart of Alabama.
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